On May 30, many people in southeastern Nigeria will remembered those who lost their lives in one of Africa’s most brutal wars.
More than one million people died during Nigeria’s 1967 to 1970 civil war known as the Biafra War The conflict erupted after leaders from southeastern Nigeria declared that the region would secede from Nigeria.
Memories of the war remain strong for those who lived through it. The war gained widespread global attention once pictures of starving Biafran children were published in the international media.
The Nigerian government had formed a blockade, making it difficult for aid groups to reach Biafra. Many children starved and developed a severe condition that became known as kwashiorkor.
The war ended with the surrender of Biafra in January 1970. Biafrans returned to Nigeria and the country once known as Biafra, ceased to exist.
But in recent years, the pro-Biafra movement has resurged.
Supporters say the grievances that led to the war have still not been addressed. Here are 4 major signs that the push for Biafra is beginning to gain grounds.
1. Survey reports
A recent survey released by a Nigerian research group revealed that the pro-Biafra movement is gaining support, particularly among young people who did not experience the war.
The rise could also be a reaction for a region that has received little infrastructural development from the federal government.
“I am supporting it [Biafra] because that is who I am,” says senior university student Sopuru Afam.
“Nigeria is an artificial creation by the British. I am not a Nigerian and I have never been and I never will.
Buhari hates our people,” Afam added.
2. Sit home order compliance
IPOB’s deputy, Uche Mefor, told VOA the Nigerian government cannot ignore the voice of Biafrans.
He said May 30 will be a day for the world to recognize because pro-Biafrans will unite in peaceful resistance. Some pro-Biafrans will stay in their homes while others plan to join street rallies.
“The compliance on that day will indeed convince the world that the people of Biafra are actually ready for their self-governance.
We have our right to self-existence and it doesn’t matter what anybody things about it,” he told VOA.
Just like Mefor said, so many south-easterners stayed home on May 30, sending a very strong message to Nigeria and the world at large.
3. Kanu’s widespread acceptance
Following the two years he spent in DSS custody, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB has gained massive popularity, acceptance and support from his people. To many he is already a hero in the likes of Ojukwu, Mandela and Martin Luther King Jnr.
He was made leader of the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) while in prison, and on regaining his freedom many now look up to as both spiritual and political leader.
There many who have come from far and nigh, just to speak to the radio Biafra director, they see him as the new voice of the Igbo people.
4. The push for referendum
There might have been a time when the issue of a referendum was not on the table, but that time is not now anymore.
Nigerians of different ethnic backgrounds are beginning to ask for a referendum, if only to get a lasting solution to the agitation for Biafra.
Many Nigerians both the masses and the elites are beginning to raise the issue of a referendum, in a bid to find a peaceful resolution to the agitations born from the marginalization of people from the southeast.
Some are of the opinion that the Biafra agitation is just, however, the issue of secession will be open to referendum as no one will be forced into it.